According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK is getting older. In 2018 18% of the population was aged 65 and over, and 2.4% aged 85 and over.
With this in mind it’s understandable that care homes are big businesses in the UK.
But what makes a good care home?
Good quality care is a must- it’s in the title. It’s like saying a lawn mower should be good at mowing lawns! If we look at the words Care and Home separately, the Oxford Dictionary provides the below definitions:
CARE: The provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.
HOME: The place where one lives permanently.
Yet, a good care home should be far more than this. Basic needs such as warmth, assistance, food and drink are all physical needs, but emotional needs are vitally important too. Being happy, stimulated and loved, as well as being treated as an individual, listened to and respected, are among the numerous emotional requirements of a care home resident.
When an individuals emotional needs are met, their physical needs begin to lessen. For example; If a person is happy and feeling loved, they are they more likely to eat and sleep well. It is therefore common sense that meeting resident’s emotional needs are just as important as their physical needs.
How do we meet the mental and emotional needs of those in our care?
The answer is simple… We CARE about them. We get to know them as an individual, not just their age, or diagnosis.
A person should never become their diagnosis; they are still who they always were. Person centered care is a buzzword to all health professionals, but what does that mean? In simple terms it means individual care with THE PERSON at the centre of it.
Tommy Whitelaw (BCAh Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland) quoted “Nothing about me without me!” meaning that all aspects of a person’s care should be discussed WITH them.
This therefore means that no resident should receive exactly the same care as another. When care homes recognise the importance of this and carers are given the opportunity to spend time with residents, getting to know them, listening to them and having fun together; this is when person centred care can truly come into play. Understandably not all residents’ wants can be met, but a good care home should strive to meet as many of them as possible.
But not every want is extravagant. Often just knowing that one resident takes milk and three sugars in their tea, and another prefers coffee with a splash of cold water can go a very long way. Institutionalisation, where every resident is served tea with milk and sugar regardless of their personal preference, may not seem like a big deal, but it is essentially taking away someone’s individuality, and implying that what they want doesn’t really matter.
These scenarios can lead to depression, aggression, disruptive sleeping patterns, falls and anxiety.
When people think of a care home they tend to think of a group of old people sitting in a lounge with little or no stimulation. This should be the complete opposite. A good care home will be bright and bustling with life. Filled with staff who realise that their job is important; staff who provide a variety of activities and experiences throughout the day like fitness, games, baking and above all laughter.
When relatives visit, they should feel as though they are entering a home, not hospital. For this to happen a good care home should resemble a family home; warm, personalised, comfortable and inviting.
Good care homes should provide a care programme that includes stimulation such as yoga, pet therapy, sensory stimulation, aromatherapy, light therapy, social interactions and keeping residents engaged, happy and living life to the full.
So, how do we know a good care home?
You can FEEL it! In the attitude and care shown by staff, the laughter of residents, the warmth and consideration in the home décor, and the wealth of experiences available. Take the TIME to be present. Show love and care to those around you, laugh more, be more understanding and in doing so, the home will be a much better place for everyone.